I love to buy used cameras and lenses on ebay, as you might have suspected ;) Most have arrived in great condition, but on some I have had problems. Here are some tips and links, gathering my and others experience (some good links at the bottom of the article). Don’t be shy to fill in with your tips in the comments – or write a post of your own.
Pricerange on previous sold lenses
Check how much other people payed for the same lens. MFLenses has a Used lens price guide, use that and seach on forums, ebay and Google also. Research the lens well. For example there can be differences between batches of products hinted by the serialnumber.
When you buy anything, you need to know that the seller is ok. Check sellers feedback!. It should be 100% or close to it. Do a search on the sellers username, some sites has blacklists of bad sellers.
I live in Sweden, buying a cheap heavy camera from ebay.com is not very smart for me since the shipping often will be very high. A filter or hood might work better. Possibly a lens. I more often buy heavy things from ebay.co.uk and the swedish version tradera.com
Condition of the item
No reason to buy worn stuff when mint condition often don’t cost much more. Watch out for the “I know nothing of cameras” auction. It can be a bargain or something really bad – there’s no way of knowing. You take a chance, sometimes you will get wonderful things and sometimes crap.
If you wan’t to be sure the item is in good condition there should be images, you should see the lenses and make the seller write that there is no fungus or scratches. See the articles I link to below for more tips.
however, sometimes it can be worth it taking a chance…
- Things to watch out for
- Fungus – often look like small spiderwebs inside the lensglass.
- Scratches – the lens can still work but you get it much cheaper!
- Cleaningmarks – to hard cleaning can damage coating
- Stuck/oily aperture – can work with cleaning if you feel up to it, otherwise don’t buy this.
- Dented filterrings – you wan’t to be able to attach hoods, filter etc… and dents don’t look nice ;)
- Corroded batteries – happens sometimes with old gear unused
- Dead lightmeters – Camera can still be usable but not very fun
Links with more tips on how to buy used cameras and lenses:
- MFlenses Used Lens Price guide
- Vintage Camera Evaluation and Buysers guide
- Buying an Antique Camera
- Buy a Camera safely and Avoid the cowboy sellers
- Matt Denton: Camera-buying tips for ebay
Images in the article is from Wikimedia Commons